Cynthia Morgan who writes frequently on the Poet’s Corner and on her blog, http://booknvolume.com, asked recently if I would like to participate in what’s known as a Blog Tour. Having no idea what I was getting myself into I said ‘Sure!’ Upon some reflection I took the invitation as something similar to going on a ‘Pub Crawl’ where beer lovers wend their way through a variety of breweries to sample the rich varieties of ales, lagers, and stouts and to learn from the craftsmen the art they find in their particular brews. Since I love a good ale, you’ll always find me willing to sample, sip, and savor! Anyway, there are as many poets out there as there are craft-beers and as much diverse poetry as there is brewing wisdom floating around to keep all the beer lovers in the world ‘in the suds’ . . .
Brewers [in this case, Poets] are asked to answer four simple questions concerning their passion for poetry. So let’s ‘pop a top’ and take a taste . . .
Why do I write what I do?
For as long as I can remember I have loved words and been overwhelmed by the desire to turn them over in my mind like stones picked up along the beach: to see what’s on the other side, to consider their myriad ambiguities, to see if I can find a crevice in their surface where my heart can gain a little purchase so as to crack them open and see what’s inside. The words that attract me most are those taken from my immediate environment: the sea near where I live and on which I sail and fish; the the trees and their inhabitants which surround me; the garden and its great variety of seeds together with the bounty those seeds regularly produce; the spirit within me which recognizes a kindred bond with every living thing and person and longs for relationship beyond familiarity . . .
How does my writing process work?
Poetry for me begins with the senses: what I see, hear, smell, taste, touch. I therefore never feel at a loss for inspiration. Having survived a rich full life I am now free from all responsibilities that interfere with reflection. I have no idea what I am about to write when I take to writing; my heart simply asks my mind ‘What’s going on around you?’ And invariably my mind comes up with an image which my heart takes up and runs with until it feels exhausted, at which point I lay it down and let it go. The exceptions to this are what I call Sacred Seasons when I may choose to follow a theme relating to my Christian faith and explore, much as the underside of stones, facets that I have been inclined to overlook through the years. A Religious for all of my professional life, I consciously avoid religious jargon in my poetry since it generally breeds sentimentality and begs definition: the glory of poetry is its ambiguity . . .
How does my work differ from other genres?
I realize that for some, what I write is not poetry; in part because I do not write in rhyme, in part because I do not care about meter. I write free verse because that’s what comes out of me . . . I post on a poetry blog because I feel a kinship with others whose craft it is to look at life’s specifics rather than focus on it’s generalities, to seek relationships within the created order rather than to define particularities. My poetry is much like story: it depends neither on historical accuracy as memoir must, nor on literary fabrication as fiction does. Perhaps it is most like parable in that it takes the reader into a question but is not concerned about taking her out again, trusting that she will find her own way if she chooses to stay with the question. In the end I believe all my poems, like all parables, are about the ‘I/Thou’ relationship we seek with the Creator . . .
What am I working on at the moment?
I do not mean to sound glib when I say I do not consider writing poetry as ‘work’. It is sheer pleasure, whether I am writing about the part of the cup of life that is half full or the part that is half empty. It is for me the tending of the inner garden. The honest encounter of my strengths and weaknesses. The celebration of my life’s deepest loves and the mourning of my life’s deepest losses. I give no thought at all to what poem I may write tomorrow; I find no satisfaction in whatever poem I wrote yesterday. At this point in my journey I am content to live this day without any other expectation than when the day is done I will look back and see, like some magnificent cathedral window, the beauty of the life that’s been given to me and say Thanks!
So there you have it. The inside scoop from an old guy who likes nothing better than to sit down with friends and share a cold one – unless of course it includes a little fresh smoked salmon. I must confess I am a bit surprised at the number of you who are reading this along with my daily verses. I always appreciate your comments, as I will any feedback you might send my way about this ‘Pub Crawl’. Along with others who have participated in this process, I think it’s always interesting to know a little more of the back-story behind the poets whose verses I have come to appreciate so much – like the ingredients and craftsmanship in the beer I drink . . .
My nominees to carry the Pub Crawl forward, poets whose writing inspires me and whom I would encourage to take part and share their story as well are:
Paul F. Lenzi of http://poesypluspolemics.com
SalvaVenia of http://salvaveniaxxl.wordpress.com Venkat of http://quatrainpoems.wordpress.com/
Thank You to Morgan Morgan for your invitation. It was fun!
And to everyone else – Prost!